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Gopher Eight Ball Variations

Mix and match your Gopher Eight Ball challenge

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Gopher Eight Ball Variations

Mix and match your Gopher Eight fun

Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2008 licensed to About.com, Inc.
The differences can be delightful in Gopher Eight Ball if you want a new pool wrinkle or wish to handicap a match between unequal players!

Intermediate players might alter Gopher's game rules as below for a tougher challenge or to focus on specific skill sets for pool. I designated these game variations to make your 8- and 9-ball play stronger than ever (or to handicap a match between pool players of unequal skill). The strong player may wish to:
  • Play call shot instead of slop pool

  • Prioritize their run in traditional Eight Ball style, by clearing the table of all the stripes or solids and next, the remaining balls (the other set) before the 8-ball (an interesting game as the Gopher player may re-choose stripes or solids at the start of each inning—a more advanced shooter may declare solids or stripes their first inning for the whole game instead, and two such players would need to run out their set then the other guy's set!)

  • Play Keyed-Up Gopher Eight and announce the key ball, the final ball you will sink before the 8-ball in sequence (announce the key when 5 or fewer balls remain—key balls are ultra-important in games like Eight Ball and Straight Pool)

  • Plan a Gopher Hunt by making your opponent shoot at the last ball you missed to start their next turn. You could plan for two such forced hunts per person per game, for example.

Here are three variants to help less skilled players (which also could be used by advanced players to make a faster game of Gopher Eight):

  • Receive ball-in-hand anytime your opponent fails to pocket a ball on their turn (and thus learn how to better plan and end a game of Eight or Nine Ball)

  • Remove by hand an agreed number of balls from the table (not the 8-ball) at any time once during the game and at any time, for example, a player with a two-ball Gopher handicap enters the table with 7 balls on the table plus the 8-ball, shoots 3 off the table, pauses their run to take 2 off by hand and drops them in pockets, and now needs to run the remaining 2 balls plus the 8-ball to win (or miss and leave their opponent 2 and the eight!)

  • Play Gopher Eight (or timeless favorite Eight Ball) with a reduced set of seven balls (3 stripes, 3 solids or "spots") and increasing the number as skill level improves. Rack these balls in a circle per the Seven Ball diagram.

Enjoy these variations as you go for eight!

Gopher Eight Ball rules and variations are (c) Matt Sherman 2008 licensed to About.com, Inc.
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